Deciding whether to install any Windows upgrade is a bit like playing roulette with your life. The millions of people out there all using their Windows PCs have their entire lives saved within its storage. It’s how they watch their favorite movies and dig through their contacts. It’s how they read their email and interact with their friends and family. In these situations, change is never easy.
The free Windows 10 upgrade that Microsoft began letting users download last year demands that users confront change head on. The differences between it and even its director predecessor, Windows 8, are long. Microsoft has redesigned the Start Screen and re-introduced the Start Menu. It’s killed off some syncing features from Windows 8 entirely. There’s a new personal assistant. Added is a new area for tracking notifications.
There’s no way around this. Support for every version of Windows is going to come to an end at some point. To continue to get support and the latest features, you’ll need Windows 10 – even if you’re worried about the changes that it’ll make to your system. Download the free Windows 10 upgrade, then tweak these settings to make it behave a little more like older versions of Windows.
Shrink the Start Menu
One of the first things you’ll notice about the Windows 10 upgrade is that the Start Menu is back for anyone using a keyboard and mouse. Functionally, the far left of the Start Menu behaves the same as the Start Menu from Windows 7 and Windows Vista. The right area of the Start Menu is a space for pinning apps and programs downloaded from the internet or the Windows Store.
It’s ok to get rid of this extra area if you don’t plan on pinning anything. Right click on every thing that’s been pinned there by default. Then hover your mouse over the edges of the Start Menu to resize it down and get rid of the blank area. What you should be left with is only the half of the Start Menu that populates based on your most used apps and programs.
Ditch the Search Bar and Task View Button
The Windows 10 Taskbar gets its first major new additions in years with Windows 10. Apps downloaded from the Windows Store can be pinned alongside programs from the web. Microsoft also made the Taskbar to central place for navigating Windows. There’s are buttons for the new Action Center, Task View and Search.
You don’t have to do much work to get the Taskbar back to its state from Windows 7. Start by right-clicking on the Search area. Uncheck the TaskView button and hide Cortana/Search from that same pop-up menu.
Turn Off Notifications
Windows 10 includes a centralized place for all notifications called the Action Center. The Action Center is meant to supplement Windows 10 apps, which had notifications that would permanently disappear in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 If you’re not planning on using Windows Store apps and notifications in general, you can hide the Action Center and turn off notifications.
Open to the Settings app from the Start Menu.
Now tap or click on System.
Now tap or click on Notifications & Actions. Flip the Show Notifications switch to Off.
Next click on Turn System Icons On or Off. Flip the switch beside Action Center to Off.
Going forward, you can pretend like the Action Center and Notifications don’t exist at all.
Add Folders to the Start Menu
Windows 7 and previous versions of Windows allowed users to quickly dive into their folders with the Start Menu. This is back after the Windows 10 upgrade, provided that you want it.
Open the Start Menu and go to the Settings app.
Inside the Settings app, choose Personalization.
Now choose Start from the menu on the left.
From here you can decide which elements of the Start Menu you’d like to keep. If you click the “Choose which folder options appear” button you can add Music, Video, Photos and other folders to directly to Start.
Use a Local Account
Microsoft so thoroughly weaved Microsoft Accounts through Windows 8 that it was impossible to imagine that the company might backtrack a bit and make everything easier for users trying to avoid them in Windows 10. It did though, meaning you can skip interlocking your online accounts with your Windows installation.
Those that have already setup their PC using a Microsoft Account can sever the link between the two.
Go to the Start Menu and open the Settings app.
Inside the Settings app, click on Accounts.
At the top of the window should a link that says Sign in with a local account instead. Click on it and Windows will guide you through the rest of process. Note that leaving your Microsoft Account behind does mean you won’t be able to use some apps. Cortana will still work, but your Outlook Account might not. The Windows Store will let you browse through Microsoft’s selection of apps, games, music and movies but not make a purchase until you’ve connected your Microsoft Account again.
Good luck with your Windows 10 upgrade. Upgrading and staying current, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re forced to use every new feature and trick backed into the new operating system.